holly always tells me that if someone’s trying to mug me i should yell “FIRE!” and not “HELP!” because “help” they’ll ignore around here. but “fire.” oh everyone in our neighborhood cares about a fire.
i recently told you about how a single neighborhood dumpster, at least here in southeast baltimore, brings people out of their homes in droves to throw things out they’ve been collecting in their basements, backyards and, i suppose if they’re hoarders, dining rooms, for 20 or more years. it’s like a community outing–if you can have a community outing in housecoats holding old microwaves while simultaneously smoking and yelling at your children. which, in baltimore, i think you can.
anyway, fires are pretty exciting around here–they’re also pretty freaking scary, as our homes are, like, connected, and one fire can, you know, burn an entire block. but these are details! there are sirens, huge red fire trucks, big fire dudes, and, mostly importantly, lots of smoke. in other words: free entertainment.
the first fire i ever saw in our neighborhood was a few years ago. i was home sick, alone. all the sudden i see this tan smoke blowing past our window. it didn’t even look like smoke. i was like, what the hell’s going on out there? a sandstorm??
i put on shoes and a hat to cover i’m sure what was a huge hair day for me (home sick means huuuuge hair) and went outside to find pretty much our entire neighborhood already outside watching a church burn.
i was like, oh my gosh. the church is on fire. i know you’re all wanting to sing: the church/the church/the church is on fire/we don’t need no water, etc. but shame on you cause it was a church and it was pretty upsetting.
i don’t know how my neighbors were all feeling. hell, i was surprised to see them all home on a weekday afternoon. i wanted to shout does anybody work around here?? but didn’t fearing repercussions and possibly violence.
everyone was huddled in groups across the street from the church, pointing. then the wbal-tv news chopper came by and we all gawked at that, too. (i love me some wbal, but damn that chopper is so damn loud.)
i tried explaining the scene to holly when she got home but i was kind of speechless. it was like…we all came together, i wanted to say. but then i snapped out of it and instead complained that i had to change my clothes b/c i smelled like a barbecue.
the secret was out. fires are a community occasion around here. even more so than a dumpster b/c you can join in without fear of bumping into the person actually paying for the dumpster you’re about to drop your 1976 mini fridge into.
now if you’re actually being mugged while there’s a fire going on, i don’t know what to tell you. maybe yell something about free crabcakes? then duck & cover.